The secret to living a long life? “A good breakfast and lots of hard work.” That is the advice from lifelong Moore County resident, Gurney Lee Williams, after recently celebrating his 107th birthday.
What a life he has lived.
Born on July 23, 1913, Williams, the oldest of thirteen children, married Annie France Allen in 1935 and raised eight children in their Robbins home. They celebrated 67 years of marriage until Annie passed in 2002. Together they had 14 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and astonishingly 17 great-great-grandchildren.
Believed to be Moore County’s longest-living resident, Williams had a long and varied work history. He started with a year and a half at Teague’s Pottery, followed by 15 years with Standard Mineral Company’s talc mine, 20 years with Milliken Textile Mill and a short stint at Taylor Mobile Homes. His working career finished with six years with Ithaca Hosiery Mill in Robbins. All while farming and raising livestock.
In a resolution to honor Williams, the Moore County Board of Commissioners presented his 80-year-old son, Ralph Williams, with a proclamation during a regular meeting Tuesday. On hand at the meeting to listen to the proclamation where family members spanning four generations, including two of his great-great-grandchildren. The resolution read, in part:
“NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Moore County Board of Commissioners hereby honors Mr. Gurney Lee Williams on the occasion of his 107th birthday and wishes he and his family continued blessings now and in the years ahead.”
Board Chair Frank Quis presents a resolution honoring Gurney Lee Williams for his 107th birthday to his 80-year-old son, Ralph Williams, of Robbins, during a regular meeting of the Moore County Commissioners. John Patota/Sandhills Sentinel.
The children of Gurney and Annie, now senior citizens themselves, include Jessie Love, of Pinehurst, Virginia Saunders, Ralph Williams, Fred Williams, Dexter Williams, and Wanda Allred, all of Robbins, Louise Lewis of Charlotte, and Geraldine Snider of Siler City.
Remarkably, Williams was recently diagnosed with coronavirus but did not show any symptoms, according to his family.
Always known for his good humor, his granddaughter, Karen Britt, of Candor, still enjoys their visits together. “Granddaddy is so full of humor during my visits with him,” Britt said. “Our last visit in March I told him ‘I guess I better go now I’ve got to go to Wal-mart.’ He told me it would be cheaper on me to just stay there with him, and we’d talk about everybody that wasn’t there. He is always a big cut up making everyone laugh.”
Geraldine Snider from Siler City participating in a large drive-by birthday celebration. Close to 200 family and friends passed by in festively decorated cars to wish Mr. Williams a happy birthday as he sat comfortably outside to watch and wave. Photo supplied by Karen Britt.
Now living at Autumn Care in Biscoe, Williams was treated to a drive-by 107th birthday celebration last month. Close to 200 family and friends passed by in festively decorated cars to wish him a happy birthday as he sat comfortability outside to watch and wave. Also passing by the retirement community to wish him well were state troopers, fire engines, and sheriff’s office vehicles.
A remarkable life, indeed.
Feature photo: A recent photo of 107-year-old Gurney Lee Williams, believed to be Moore County’s longest living resident in history. Photo supplied by Karen Britt.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter John Patota.